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Affordable housing takes off in coastal city

By Li Fusheng ( China Daily )

Updated: 2013-06-29

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 Affordable housing takes off in coastal city

Dazzling night view of the modern city. Qingdao authorities give a priority to develop real property for low-income groups.

Owning an apartment is a dream for many low-income families in China, and that dream is coming true in the coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong province.

"Housing is the hottest topic among local people and their biggest concern. So a major task of ours in these years is to increase low-income housing," said Li Qun, Qingdao's top political leader.

By the end of 2012, local authorities provided or renovated housing for 322,000 households through projects that cover low-rent housing, affordable housing, price-fixed housing, public rental housing.

Official statistics show that 16.1 percent of urban and rural households in the city live in their own apartments provided by low-income housing projects and the figure reaches 23.9 percent in downtown areas.

Targeting low-income families, low-income apartments do not mean compromised quality, one government official said.

Affordable housing takes off in coastal city

He said they follow the same standards as commercial housing in terms of all procedures ranging from design to construction and approval and the locations are equipped with such living necessities as water, electricity, natural gas, cable TV and telephone.

"In a word, they are not very big but meet people's various living requirements."

The government also provides a subsidy of 0.3 yuan per square meter for public rental housing tenants who can't afford property management fees.

The city won the 2012 award of China's model on living environment from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development for its low-income housing program.

It is the first program of its kind in the country that has garnered the annual award - the highest prize in the field of construction and living environment in China.

And the achievement is thanks to the city government's efforts, one official said.

Low-income housing has been one of the government's priorities since 2007.

To promote the effort, it introduced a system in 2008 that requires at least 20 percent of land earmarked for new residential projects must be dedicated to low-income apartments.

Official statistics show that by the end of May the city government has earmarked 650.3 hectares and 20.8 billion yuan for the housing.

To diversify the financing channels, the city government established an investment company in 2012. It also invites private capital to play a role in investment and construction of such housing projects.

The city government is planning to build 45,000 low-income apartments in the next three years, of which 30,000 are public rental apartments, accounting for 66.7 percent of the total.

By the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15), low-income housing is expected to cover 20 percent of the households in Qingdao, according to the government.